The Memory and Navigation Lab

Columbia University, Department of Bioengineering

The goal of our work is to characterize the neural signals that represent individual memories. To do this, we study brain recordings from epilepsy patients with implanted electrodes and examine how the recorded signals correspond to behavior in cognitive tasks. Our current work focuses on two areas: spatial and recognition memory. Using this approach, we have identified neural signals that represent specific memory information, including the individual locations in spatial memory and representations of individual verbal items in working memory.


Electrophysiological signatures of spatial boundaries in the human subiculum
Sang Ah Lee, Jonathan F. Miller, Andrew J. Watrous, Michael Sperling, Ashwini Sharan, Gregory A. Worrell, Brent M. Berry, Barbara C. Jobst, Kathryn A. Davis, Robert E. Gross, Bradley Lega, Sameer Sheth, Sandhitsu R. Das, Joel M. Stein, Richard Gorniak, Daniel S. Rizzuto, Joshua Jacobs (2018).
Journal of Neuroscience,Posted February 21, 2018 [PDF]


The medial temporal lobe organizes memory across time and space: Causal evidence from brain stimulation
Abhinav Goyal, Jonathan Miller, Andrew J Watrous, Sang Ah Lee, Tom Coffey, Michael Sperling, Ashwini Sharan, Gregory Worrell, Berry Brent, Bradley Lega, Barbara C Jobst, Kathryn Davis, Robert Gross, Sameer Sheth, Youssef Ezzyat, Sandhitsu Das, Joel Stein, Richard Gorniak, Mike Kahana, Dan Rizzuto, Joshua Jacobs (2017).
Biorxiv,Posted November 12, 2017 [preprint PDF]

Theta and alpha oscillations are traveling waves in the human neocortex
Honghui Zhang, Andrew J. Watrous, Ansh Patel, Joshua Jacobs (2017).
Biorxiv,Posted November 11, 2017 [preprint PDF]

Phase-tuned neuronal firing encodes human contextual representations for navigational goals
Andrew J Watrous, Jonathan Miller, Salman E Qasim, Itzhak Fried, Joshua Jacobs (2017).
Biorxiv, Posted October 12, 2017 [preprint PDF]

Human Hippocampal Theta Oscillations: Distinctive Features and Interspecies Commonalities.
Joshua Jacobs, Andrew J Watrous, Bradley Lega (2017).
The Hippocampus from Cells to Systems (pp. 37-67). Springer International Publishing.[webpage]


Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Human Entorhinal Region and Hippocampus Impairs Memory
Joshua Jacobs, Jonathan Miller, Sang Ah Lee, Tom Coffey, Andrew J. Watrous, Michael R. Sperling, Ashwini Sharan,Gregory Worrell, Brent Berry, Bradley Lega, Barbara C. Jobst, Kathryn Davis, Robert E. Gross, Sameer A. Sheth,Youssef Ezzyat, Sandhitsu R. Das, Joel Stein, Richard Gorniak, Michael J. Kahana, Daniel S. Rizzuto (2016).
Neuron, 7 December 2016, Volume 92, Issue 5, p983–990 [pdf]

Spatial Cognition: Grid Cells Support Imagined Navigation
Jacobs, J., Lee, S.A. (2016).
Current Biology, 4 April 2016, Volume 26, Issue 7, Pages R277–R279.[pdf]

Human Hippocampal Theta Oscillations during Movement without Visual Cues
Qasim, S., Jacobs, J. (2016).
Neuron, 16 March 2016, Volume 89, Issue 6,Pages 1121–1123[pdf]

Human hippocampal theta oscillations: Distinctive features and interspecies commonalities
Jacobs, J., Lega, B., Watrous, A.J. (2016). [pdf]


Traveling Theta Waves in the Human Hippocampus
Zhang, H., Jacobs, J. (2015).
Journal of Neuroscience, September 9, 2015, 12477-12487.[pdf]

Repeating Spatial Activations in Human Entorhinal Cortex
Miller, J.F., Fried, I., Suthana, N., Jacobs, J. (2015).
Current Biology, April 2015, 1080-1085. [pdf]


Brain Computer Interface to Enhance Episodic Memory in Human Partipants
Burke, J.F., Merkow, M.B., Jacobs, J., Kahana, M.J., and Zaghloul, K.A. (2014).
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, December 2014. [pdf]

Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Advances in Electrocorticography
Ritaccio, A., Brunner, P., Gunduz, A., Hermes, D., Hirsch, L., Jacobs, J., Kamada, K., Kastner, S., Knight, R., Lesser, R., Miller, K., Sejnowski, T., Worrell, G., Schalk, G. (2014).
Epilepsy & Behavior, 41, December 2014, 183-192. [pdf]

Methods for implantation of micro-wire bundles and optimization of single/multi-unit recordings from human mesial temporal lobe.
Misra, A., Burke, J.F., Ramayya, A., Jacobs, J., Sperling, M.R., Moxon, K.A., Kahana, M.J., Evans, J.J., and Sharan, A.D. (2014).
Journal of Neural Engineering, 11(2), 026013. [pdf]

Hippocampal theta oscillations are slower in humans than in rodents: Implications for models of spatial navigation and memory.
Jacobs, J. (2014).
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369: 20130304. [pdf]


Neural activity in human hippocampal formation reveals the spatial context of retrieved memories.
Miller, J.F., Neufang, M., Solway, A., Brandt, A., Trippel, M., Mader, I., Polyn, S.M., Jacobs, J., Kahana, M.J., Schulze-Bonhage, A. (2013) .
Science, 342(6162), 1111-1114. [pdf, Supplemental]

Direct recordings of grid-like neuronal activity in human spatial navigation.
Jacobs, J., Weidemann, C.T., Miller, J.F., Solway, A., Burke, J.F., Wei, X., Suthana, N., Sperling, M.R., Sharan, A.D., Fried, I., Kahana, M.J. (2013).
Nature Neuroscience, 16, 1188-1190. [pdf, Supplemental, Task Movie]

Repeated stimuli elicit diminished high-gamma electrocorticographic responses.
Merzagora, A.R., Coffey, T.J, Sperling, M., Sharan, A., Litt., B, Baltuch, G., Jacobs, J. (2013).
NeuroImage. [pdf]

Decoding the memorization of individual stimuli with direct human brain recordings.
van Gerven, M.A.J., Maris, E., Sperling, M., Sharan, A., Litt, B., Anderson, C., Baltuch, G., Jacobs, J (2013).
NeuroImage, 70, 223-232. [pdf]

Synchronous and asynchronous theta and gamma activity during episodic memory formation.
Burke, J.F., Zaghloul, K.A., Jacobs, J., Williams, R.B., Sperling, M.R., Sharan, A.D., Kahana., M.J. (2013).
Journal of Neuroscience, 33(1), 292-304. [pdf]


Explaining how brain stimulation can evoke memories.
Jacobs, J., Lega, B., Anderson, C. (2012).
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(3), 553-563. [pdf,supplemental video]

Human hippocampal theta oscillations and the formation of episodic memories.
Lega, B., Jacobs, J, Kahana, M., (2012).
Hippocampus, 22(4), 748-761. [pdf]


Spurious report of high-frequency electrocorticographic oscillations. [Electronic response to Nonuniform High-Gamma (60--500 Hz) Power Changes Dissociate Cognitive Task and Anatomy in Human Cortex., Gaona et al.]
Jacobs, J., Miller, K., Edwards, E., Voytek, B. (2011).
Journal of Neuroscience, Published online Feb. 28, 2011. [Link]


Response to Miller: Broadband vs. high gamma electrocorticographic signals.
Jacobs, J., Manning, J.R., Kahana, M.J. (2010).
Journal of Neuroscience,30, Published online. [Link]

A sense of direction in human entorhinal cortex.
Jacobs, J., Kahana, M.J., Ekstrom, A.D., Mollison, M., & Fried, I. (2010).
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(14), 6487 – 6492. [pdf, Supplemental, Movie]

Direct brain recordings fuel advances in cognitive electrophysiology.
Jacobs, J., Kahana, M.J. (2010).
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(4), 162 – 171. [pdf]

Right-lateralized brain oscillations in human spatial navigation.
Jacobs, J.,∗ Korolev, I.O.,∗ Caplan, J.B., Ekstrom, A.D., Litt, B., Baltuch, G., Fried, I., Schulze-Bonhage, A., Madsen, J. R., & Kahana, M.J. (2010).
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(5), 824 – 836. (∗ equal contributions.) [pdf]


Broadband shifts in LFP power spectra are correlated with single-neuron activity in humans.
Manning, J.R., Jacobs, J., Fried, I., & Kahana, M.J. (2009).
Journal of Neuroscience, 29(43), 13613 – 3620. [pdf]

Neural representations of individual stimuli revealed by gamma-band electrocorticographic activity.
Jacobs, J., & Kahana, M.J. (2009).
Journal of Neuroscience, 29(33), 10203 – 10214. [pdf]


PyEPL: A cross-platform experiment-programming library.
Geller, A.S., Schleifer, I.K., Sederberg, P.B., Jacobs, J., & Kahana, M.J. (2007).
Behavior Research Methods, 39(4), 950 – 958. [pdf]

Contrasting roles of single neuron activity and local field potentials in human memory.
Ekstrom, A., Viskontas, I., Kahana, M.J., Jacobs, J., Upchurch, K., Bookheimer, S., & Fried, I. (2007).
Hippocampus, 17(8), 606 – 17. [pdf]

Brain oscillations control timing of single-neuron activity in humans.
Jacobs, J., Kahana, M.J., Ekstrom, A.D. & Fried, I. (2007).
Journal of Neuroscience, 27(14), 3839 – 3844. [pdf]

2006 and Earlier

EEG oscillations and recognition memory: Theta correlates of memory retrieval and decision making.
Jacobs, J., Hwang-Grodzins, G., Curran, T., & Kahana, M.J. (2006).
NeuroImage, 32, 978 – 987. [pdf]

EEG correlates of verbal and nonverbal working memory.
Hwang-Grodzins, G., Jacobs, J., Geller, A., Danker, J., Sekuler, R., & Kahana, M.J. (2005).
Behavioral and Brain Functions, 1 – 20. [pdf]

Inter-response times in serial recall: Effects of intraserial repetition.
Kahana, M.J. & Jacobs, J. (2000).
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 26, 1188 – 1197. [pdf]

Why Scientists Are Still Flummoxed by Alzheimer's

Josh Jacobs in Time on memory and Alzheimer's

Deep Brain Stimulation Fails to Improve Memory in New Study

Neuron paper on deep-brain stimulation in Wall Street Journal

The Brain's GPS May Also Help Us Map Our Memories

Josh Jacobs on NPR's All Things Considered

Demos & Videos

Explaining how brain stimulation can evoke memories.
Jacobs, J., Lega, B., Anderson, C. (2012).
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(3), 553-563. [pdf]


Joshua Jacobs


Jonathan Miller


Andrew Watrous


Shachar Maidenbaum


Honghui Zhang


Ansh Patel


Salman Qasim


Uma Mohan


Melina Tsitsiklis


Tamara Gedankein


Abhinav Goyal


Corey Novich

Sang-Ah Lee

Hagai Lalazar

Omar Elfanagely

Shady El-Damaty

Anna Merzagora


Our research is supported by DARPA, National Institutes of Health & National Science Foundation


Dr. Michael Kahana
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Michael Sperling
Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Ashwini Sharan
Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Joseph Tracey
Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Ithzak Fried

You can get in touch with us via e-mail